In the spring of 2002, President Swygert casually suggested an alumni
exhibition of artists from the Department
of Art. Persuaded by his metaphysical certitude and confidence that the
Gallery and its staff were equal to the challenge, we chose the centennial
of the birth of James A. Porter, second chairman of the Department of Art,
as the premiere for the exhibit.
A committee, including gallery staff, thirteen alumni from the classes of
1949 through 1993 (William Dorsey, Reggie Pointer, Akili Ron Anderson, Jane
Wheat Bettistea, Starmanda Bullock, Teresia Bush, Yvonne Pickering Carter,
Teixeira Nash, Adrian Loving, Winnie Owens-Hart, Peter L. Robinson, Jr. and
George Smith) and one invited colleague, Floyd Coleman, met November 6,
2002, and began to create criteria and establish guidelines.
An announcement of the exhibition and the call for entries was published in
the winter issue of the Howard Magazine and details followed in the spring.
Later, the Gallery’s website updated information. We received art works and
slide portfolios through October of 2003. The committee convened on January
14, 2004 to review works from each artist. At this session, catalogue
matters and funding sources were considered. We engaged a photographer to
ensure pristine color and consistency and artists were notified of the
choices made by the committee in February.
For the next six weeks, the chosen works were meticulously organized and
labeled by alumni Scott Baker and Eileen Johnston. The committee planned
ancillary programs, panels, gallery talks/tours, and studio visits that
would take place during the three months of exhibition and public
programs... At our final meeting, December 7, 2004, we fine-tuned details
and approved the title: A Proud Continuum: Eight Decades of Art at Howard
Although we endeavored to be as inclusive as possible, we were cognizant of
the limitations of the process.
Major difficulties were encountered in contacting alumni. Even so, there
were numerous responses from across the country. We felt compelled to
include works of posthumous artists, such as Alma Thomas, the first graduate
in 1924, and the most recent loss, Malkia Roberts, from the class of 1936.
This exhibition has come together from the coordination, organization and
focus of the last two years and the
contributions of many persons. Without the help of these individuals, we
would not have succeeded in bringing the alumni exhibition to the University
and metropolitan communities.
First and foremost, we extend abundant thanks to President H. Patrick
Swygert for his unbridled support for this
exhibition and for the Gallery’s activities. He was instrumental in
obtaining the sponsorship for the production of the
catalogue, and, for his impetus and efforts, we are indebted to him. We
thank Provost English and Dean Donaldson for their encouragement and support
of Gallery programs. We extend our gratitude to Mrs. Stacey D. Stewart,
President and Chief Executive Officer of the Fannie Mae Foundation, for her
belief in this project and financial support. Peter L. Robinson, Jr., 1949
graduate, has been particularly generous to Alma Mater. He established a
scholarship in honor of his father, Major Peter L. Robinson, Sr., and his
wife, Romaine Francis Scott Robinson, to support needy art students pursuing
a degree in art
education or the visual arts. Robinson provided support for the design and
production of the invitation for this exhibit as well. We thank him for his
consideration and consistent support. We thank Starmanda Bullock for access
to laboratory computers and software programs and the design of her
signature logo. And, we heartily applaud the alumni committee for their
vision and continued assistance. To Robert Hall and the Anacostia Museum for
co-sponsoring the artist’s studio visits and providing bus transportation
for participants; to J.J. Pryor and Tanya Nelson of the Office of
University Communications for their
assistance in media preparation and outreach; to Jennifer Lawson and David
Shapinsky of WHUT-TV 32 for their assistance in helping to develop
broadcasting programs related to the exhibition; and, to Ragan Royal of
University Advancement for her assistance on the preliminary proposal and
its many drafts, we extend our gratitude. For their numerous hours of
research and crafting their insightful and compelling essays, we offer our
sincere thanks to Scott W. Baker, Teresia Bush, David C. Driskell, Lisa E.
Farrington and Richard J. Powell.
Our editor, Carolyn Shuttlesworth, former faculty member of the Department
of English, has worked with us on
several projects through the years. Resident historian Floyd Coleman, has
been an invaluable treasure since his arrival in 1987. His committee input
and strategic editorial comments were critical to the ebb and flow of this
project. To both of
these scholars, we offer our sincere thanks. To Thomas Battle, Moorland
Spingarn Research Center for permission to reprint
photographic materials from the 1923 and 1924 Year Book; to Rosa Anthony
and Andrea Only for their assistance in
retrieving and making available those mages from the Center. To Clifford
Muse of the University Archives for the
photographs researched across the decades, and permission to reprint. To
James V. Pleasant for providing the photographs
of building facades and Porter book covers as a last minute request. To
each of you, we are extremely grateful; the catalogue would not have been as
meaningful without your cooperation.
The design of the catalogue was paramount to the success of this endeavor.
We are indebted to Adrian Loving of Launchpad Designs for his creativity,
cooperation and perseverance in melding the many suggestions and ideas into
exciting design; to Kullen Dickerson of Automated Graphics Systems, Inc. for
his pleasant collaboration with the gallery and designer; and to Gregory R.
Staley, photographer, for his flexible schedule with this project and his
of the art work.
The staff of the Gallery, as the President opined, rose to the challenge of
this mammoth task. In the planning,
data collection, registration and myriad other tasks, Eileen Johnston and
Scott Baker have maintained a work ethic that
is envious and contagious. I am indebted to their cooperative spirit and
Finally, sincere appreciation is extended to the artists on exhibition and
to those who cheerfully joined the effort to find classmates and friends.
Because of them and the artists that follow, the legacy of the department
will flourish for many decades to come.
Hayes Benjamin ,
Director, Gallery of Art